Catherine and James Wilson of Courtland look over plans for replacing the Route 35 bridge over the Nottoway River during a Thursday public hearing at Southampton Middle School. -- GWEN ALBERS | TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

Hearing on Courtland bridge held

Published 9:10am Friday, February 8, 2013

COURTLAND—Lewis Bryant has experienced going without Courtland’s Route 35 bridge, even though it’s not scheduled for replacement until spring 2014.

The Virginia Department of Transportation last summer reduced the weight limit on the 83-year-old bridge. For Bryant, operator of the Severn Peanut Co., formerly Hancock, it means his truckers can no longer use the bridge to get peanuts from three warehouses on the other side of the Nottoway River.

“I’ve got 600 loads of peanuts on the other side,” he said during a Thursday evening public hearing on the project, which is expected to create a seven-mile detour.

Courtland Vice Mayor Stan Piersa has his own concerns. The bridge’s replacement is expected to coincide with the construction of a $22 million flyover at Business 58 and Route 58 outside Courtland.

“The overlapping of the two projects will restrict traffic to so much of Courtland,” Piersa said. “Most of the businesses in town rely on passing traffic.”

The 23 months it was initially expected to replace the Route 35 bridge has been cut to 12 to 16 months, Project Manager John Harman said during the hearing at Southampton Middle School.

“We were able to have a fresh look, but there are still a number of challenges,” Harman said.

Construction on the flyover is set to begin in February 2014, yet there could be a chance that one of the two projects could be delayed, he said. Harman didn’t know which one, but said the flyover is fully funded, while the bridge is shy $1 million.

Like Bryant, Route 35 residents Catherine and James Wilson would like to see VDOT put in a temporary bridge while the new bridge is built. That would increase the price tag to $22 million.

During construction, the two-mile roundtrip to the post office in Courtland would turn into a 14-mile roundtrip for the Wilsons, who live a half-mile from the bridge.

“Fourteen miles roundtrip for two years (is a long time),” James Wilson said. “If it was a shorter period of time (that would be better).”

Other options pitched by VDOT include building a new bridge next to the old bridge for $19 million or continuing to repair the bridge, which has reached its life expectancy. Weight limits have been lowered to the minimum possible for truck traffic.

Comments taken during the hearing will help VDOT make that decision, Harman said.

The funding beyond the $13 million would have to come from other projects planned in the county.


  • weatherspotter

    I really don’t see the need in a flyover, or the new 460 as far ar that goes. But I agree that having 2 projects at the same time would be a BAD idea!!

    Suggest Removal

  • bulldog238

    I cant believe ya’ll are complaining about that bridge being replaced. It’s about to fall in the river!! VDOT is doing the right thing. Let them get started ASAP!!!! You have people that are going to complain no mater what. Let’s get it done!!!!

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    • geographically challenged

      I agree that the bridge does need to be replaced, BUT it does not need to happen at the same time as construction on the intersection at 58 and Jerusalem Rd. They need to do one at a time. Personally, I believe that the bridge should be done first. The brain trusts that are running VDOT have no clue how badly they are going to endanger our citizens. If you doubt me, I challenge you to join Courtland Rescue or Courtland Fire, you will quickly see how effected we are about to be. The Tidewater News should investigate… or maybe we should call 10 on our side.

      Suggest Removal

  • hdff4u

    To add to geographically chellenged post, Courtland Vol. Fire Dept depends on its members to respond to the station. Having one obstacle(the bridge being closed) is enough of a henderence and slows response time. If members have trouble getting through the 58, bus.58 intersection also its only going to slow things down more. This may not seem like a big issue to some people unless its their house on fire or they are trapped in a vehicle. Anybody that has driven 58 knows how bad Friday afternoons can be with traffic, imagine trying to get through that in a timely manner to get to the station and respond to an emergency.

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  • chilimac72

    But if it needs fixed, what other way is there to go? Seriously, are we going to wait until the bridge collapses with our children driving to school on it?

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  • geographically challenged

    So VDOT wants to close the bridge that our county’s only 24 hr EMS crew relies on and screw up the intersection that they will have to divert to when we call for help. Is this smart? Please note, that this was not even MENTIONED in this article. Come on Tidewater News. You have heard members of our community comment on this concern before and you just forgot about it?

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  • justthinking

    I can’t help but think that Courtland businesses won’t make it through this.

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  • Liberty With Responsibility

    WARNING: Allowing VDOT to have two projects in the same community at the same time will be a disaster. Witness late last summer the brilliant plan to have the James River Bridge and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and Route 17 Suffolk bridge worked and blocked all on the same weekend. Remember? My family and many others were stuck in traffic for 5 hours! Look it up!

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  • FromHere

    Get in a boat and go look under that bridge. I wouldn’t want to drive a tractor trailer over it. I don’t even like to be ON it when a tractor trailer is on it at the same time. It was failing after Floyd, but was “patched” such as it is. It will be bad for Courtland, but the bridge needs to be replaced.

    Suggest Removal

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